The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) in a Nutshell

How it Works

DE-LAP Services Include, but are not Limited to

Attorney #1 Works in a toxic environment and feels like she is swimming in a circle, slowly going under. Needs assistance with change.
Attorney #2 is using heroine. His life is out-of-control; he needs help.
Attorney #3 lost his brother to a freak accident and is now the primary caregiver to his aging parents.
How do these attorneys cope with their problems? They all found assistance through Lawyers Assistance Programs.
 The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) sees and hears stories similar to these and others dealing with such issues as life changes, depression, alcohol/chemical abuse/dependence, gambling addiction, and other problems regarding adulthood and aging. In a nutshell, DE-LAP is a confidential service that provides information and meaningful assistance to judges, lawyers, and others in Delaware’s legal community.
 The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) is the equivalent of an Employee Assistance Program that you might find in large corporations or private companies. The only difference is that this program is designed specifically for Delaware’s legal community offers additional confidentiality and peer support.
 Employee Assistance Programs began approximately 30 years ago. They have become commonplace in work organizations, similar to vacation and 401 (k) plans. More than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies provide EAP’s to their employees, and surveys show that as many as two-thirds of medium-sized firms offer them as well. The U.S. Department of Labor, the Society for Human Resource Management, and numerous other agencies and organizations promote EAP’s not only to assist workers with alcohol and drug issues; but also to help maximize workforce performance and productivity.
 Similarly, studies over the past years confirm that lawyers experience a high rate of depression, substance abuse/dependence, and other psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms related to the stress of practicing law. It is estimated that at least 18 percent of lawyers may be dealing with chemical dependence issues. Other studies indicate that today 70% of lawyers will at some time in their professional career experience problems with substance abuse and/or dependence.
Considering the incidences of depression among lawyers, studies suggest that lawyers suffer from elevated feelings of psychological distress, including feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, anxiety, social alienation, isolation, and depression. Unfortunately, the legal profession tops the list in significant stress and depression incidences among the various professions. Fortunately, these diseases are generally treatable, and recoveries are a reality.
Accordingly, The Supreme Court of Delaware, The Delaware State Bar Association, and The Board on Professional Responsibility Office of Disciplinary Counsel realized that the legal profession is at high risk for certain diseases and that treatment works. Therefore, a Committee on Lawyer Assistance was created to offer confidential support to attorneys. Today, Delaware joins the nations of Canada and England in having a formal program to assist judges and lawyers.
In a nutshell, DE-LAP includes a paid professional on staff that works with the original peer committee. The Executive Director is a Certified International Employee Assistance Professional and a licensed Wellness Inventory Coach. Also, The Lawyer Assistance Committee remains the backbone of the Delaware Lawyers Assistance (DE-LAP) Program. It is a network of over 20 Delaware attorneys who have volunteered to help a legal professional.
The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) is an Exempt Organization under the Internal Revenue Code. It is classified as an IRC 501 (c) (6) organization and A Delaware Limited Liability Company.
By identifying the problems, facilitating treatment, and supporting in recovery, the Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) fulfills its mission:
To provide confidential assistance to Judges and Lawyers to help them identify and address problems such as depression, stress, substance abuse/dependence, gambling addiction, and other illnesses and to assist them in developing effective solutions that culminate in a workplace atmosphere that encourages professional growth, excellence and maintains the integrity of the legal profession.
Person by person, the Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) is reaching out to help Delaware's professional legal community.
However, because of the sensitive nature of addiction and psychological problems, lawyers and judges who may need help are often very reluctant to seek it. Therefore, to foster early and confidential contact with The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP), The Delaware Supreme Court acknowledges the work of the Program and its need for confidentiality. More specifically, it is written in the Professional Conduct Rules, Rule 8.3, and reporting professional misconduct, p 158:
RULE 8.3 REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT (a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct raises a substantial question about that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority. (b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has violated applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question about the judge's fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority. (c) This Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6. (d) Notwithstanding anything in this or other of the rules to the contrary, the relationship between members of either (i) the Lawyers Assistance Committee of the Delaware State Bar Association and counselors retained by the Bar Association, or (ii) the Professional Ethics Committee of the Delaware State Bar Association, or (iii) the Fee Dispute Conciliation and Mediation Committee of the Delaware State Bar Association, or (iv) the Professional Guidance Committee of the Delaware State Bar Association, and a lawyer or a judge shall be the same as that of attorney and client.
Therefore, The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) provides confidentiality. It is a non-disciplinary way for Delaware's Judges, lawyers, and others working in the legal community to seek appropriate help for problems before they sabotage an individual's career and/or quality of life. Referrals are confidential. Plus, any legal professional that seeks assistance as a self-referral can be assured that their information will be held in the strictest confidence. Similarly, those concerned about a co-worker, peer, or other legal professional are guaranteed the same confidentiality.
Initial Assessment:
A trained member of the DE-LAP staff will meet with the legal professional either at the De-LAP office located at 405 N. King Street, Suite 100B, Wilmington, Delaware (Use separate entrance) or off-site to evaluate the problem and recommend solutions. DE-LAP maintains an extensive, up-to-date network of licensed healthcare professionals familiar with the unique issues involved in working within the legal profession.
In appropriate situations, a member of the staff will plan, rehearse and facilitate a formal intervention to assist with the impaired or problem individual.
Peer Support Network:
The person in need of assistance or help may be paired with a member of the Lawyer Assistance Committee, in the person’s area as a mentor to help in the support and/or monitoring stage.
Structured Rehabilitation Program:
In cases involving formal action against the legal professional or a supervisory referral, The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) can implement a structured rehabilitation program that documents legal professionals’ efforts and success in dealing with their problems.
Attorney Support Meetings:
The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) sponsors weekly and monthly meetings where attorneys help each other deal with the problems and stresses of practicing law while maintaining balance in your personal life. The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) also provides educational and other outreach activities/seminars.
If after reading this article you are concerned about yourself or another lawyer (judge), pick up the phone and call The Delaware Lawyers Assistance Program (DE-LAP) at (302) 777-0124 or toll-free 1-877-24-DELAP or e-mail
Remember, Delaware judges and lawyers do not have to face overwhelming problems alone. Equally important, each call serves to chip away at the stigma associated with these diseases that often works to keep judges and lawyers sick and isolated from support and assistance.
Don’t Suffer Silently.
We do together What Need Not Be Done Alone!